Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Petrarch in New York

My English professor spent a good 20 minutes today discussing his findings in last week's issue of the New Yorker. In addition to an incredible poem he happened upon while reading at the laundrymat, he talked about the Petrarchan implications of this cover:
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I was so touched I immediately went out after lecture and bought this issue. The art in and of itself I think is very striking, but what Prof. Helgerson said was even more so. The portrait captures the Petrarchan obsession with the momentary, the fleeting and the gaze of the beloved. Petrarch saw Laura once on April 6, 1327 and wrote countless sonnets to her from that very day, always obsessed with the first moment he met her. It's hard to tell in this portrait if these two New Yorkers will ever meet again, if they were perfect for one another (after all, they've both fatefully looked up from reading the same book at the exact moment that their trains passed each other), or if one of them would maybe spend the rest of his or her life in the city searching for the other, writing sonnets in their perpetual search just as Petrarch did for Laura. And even if they didn't find one another, would this moment be the moment that they would forever look back on, the one that they rhapsodize with their friends about over coffee, sighing into the steam, "What if?"

1 comment:

jen said...

*sigh*
i'm touched.